Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Is The Story About?

The first draft of Tempt the Devil is FINALLY finished.

*toss of confetti*

Before I start work on the second draft, there's a question that has to be asked and answered: What Is The Story About.

You'd think I know, but it's not that clear while I'm writing it. If you had asked me in the middle of the first draft what tempt the Devil was about, I would have said, "One of QuiTai's enemies is found dead in the Red Happiness. If the real murderer isn't found, she'll be executed by sunset." Or something like that, but that isn't what the story is about. That's the plot.

Plot and theme are two different things. They influence each other. Any character action should serve both to some degree. Plot is a timeline of events, cause and effect. Theme is more nebulous, more of a gut reaction, the emotional takeaway.

I'm sure most writers know what they mean to say when they sit down to write a story, but I discover it while I'm writing. It does no good to ask what the story is about while I'm working on the first draft because I don't have a clue. I haven't found it yet.

As I think about what I wrote in the first draft, the theme comes into focus. While I didn't know at a conscious level, subconsciously I was weaving it into the fabric of the story. Looking back, it's all so obvious. Tempt the Devil is about Kyam forgiving QuiTai for betraying him during the rice riot.  (although, if you're team QuiTai, you know there's nothing to forgive) 

Now I can get to work on the second draft.